Para Hockey is the official Paralympic version of ice hockey with more than 50 years of tradition. The previously used sledge hockey name changed to para hockey after the unification of all paralympic sports in 2018.
It is played in special sledges (hence the name sledge), which has two knives instead of the base. Players move by using two sticks, which have a steel tip on one end and a blade on the other. Therefore, hockey sticks serve not only to control the puck, but also to move players.
The history of para hockey dates back to the early 1960s, when patients in a Stockholm Rehabilitation Center did not want to give up hockey despite their disabilities. They built a special sledge and as hockey sticks they used rounded sticks with bicycle handlebars. Para hockey then went through a rapid development.
The sport first got to the Paralympics program in 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway and became one of the most attractive disciplines.
Para hockey in the Czech republic
In the Czech Republic, para hockey has been played since 1999 in Zlin. Currently, eight clubs are registered (České Budějovice, Karlovy Vary, Litvínov, Pardubice, Prague, Studénka, Zlín and Olomouc). These teams are part of the domestic championship of the Czech Ice Hockey League, run by the Czech Hockey Association. It has been under the Czech Ice Hockey Association since 2006.
Historically, the most successful para hockey championships took place in the spring of 2019 in Ostrava. The World Championships in Ostrava 2019 was visited by 45,000 fans during one week. They beat the record for attendance, overtaking the Paralympics and overseas tournaments.
Roman Herink – one of the founders of para hockey in the Czech Republic
He saw sledge hockey at the Nagano Paralympics in 1998. As a wheelchair user he immediately caught his eye and at that time he began to invent a crazy idea of how to launch this sport in the Czech Republic. Despite all the complications of lacking finance and equipment, he began to construct the first sledge. With a self-made prototype, he managed to get out onto the ice roughly after a year of work.
In 2005 he co-organized a Europe Championship in Zlin with Martin Kudlicek from Palacky University and subsequently he organized several international tournaments. The 2009 World Championships in Ostrava at which he functioned as the chairman of the organisation committee can be considered as the peak of his professional career as well as his personally fulfilled goals in sledge hockey.
Roman Herink was the oldest member of the 2010 Czech Vancouver Paralympics. He is a legend in the Czech sledge hockey world. He was managing Zlín as part of the Czech sledge hockey league until 2012 as a general manager.